This year, Webster University’s George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology will induct 220 students into its Lambda Kappa chapter of Delta Mu Delta. Induction into Delta Mu is one of the highest levels of recognition a business student can earn.
On May 7, the Walker School honored 73 students from the St. Louis region, which includes Webster University’s main campus in St. Louis, Missouri as well as its campuses at Scott Air Force Base, Old Post Office Downtown, Westport, Winghaven and those who are pursuing their degrees online, at its induction ceremony.
During the ceremony, Walker School Dean Benjamin Ola Akande encouraged the inductees to lead from where they are and to become key participants in the game of life. “Consider making things happen,” he said. “The only monument to your life is the difference you make while you are alive, the evidence you leave behind.” Read Akande’s full remarks.
In addition to honoring students, Maxine Clark was inducted into the Walker School’s Lambda Kappa chapter of Delta Mu Delta. A true innovator in the retail industry, Clark founded Build-A-Bear Workshop in 1997 after a successful career with Payless Shoe Source and The May Company. Today, there are more than 400 Build-A-Bear Workshop stores worldwide, including company-owned stores in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, and franchise stores in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, Mexico and the Middle East.
Membership in Delta Mu Delta is limited to students at colleges and universities with business programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Since the Walker School’s inaugural induction in 2009, 2,425 students have been inducted into the Lambda Kappa Chapter of Delta Mu Delta. Learn more about Delta Mu Delta.
Remarks by Benjamin Ola. Akande, dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology
Delta Mu Delta Induction Ceremony – May 7, 2015
Some say America is becoming a nation of self-centered egomaniacs – the me, myself and I generation. A nation where we are more concerned about what’s in it for us and could care less about what we can do together and how we can make things better.
Too many of us are satisfied to just sit around and watch life happen from the good stadium seats. Far too many of us are content to be spectators.
This afternoon we honor the few that are focused on and invested their time on being meaningful players in the game of life. Today you are receiving the highest individual recognition bestowed by Delta Mu Delta, the honor society.
As you proceed on the journey of the rest of your life, consider becoming a key participant in the ultimate game of life. Consider making things happen. The only monument to your life is the difference you make while you are alive, the evidence you leave behind.
A few years ago, a prominent news outlet asked Americans in a survey to name the individuals that had the greatest impact in the 20th century. Their top five picks were: Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Pope John Paul II. These great people all had one thing in common: they were ordinary people who did extraordinary things. They were committed to making a difference, to building community and building others. They were focused on effecting change in their communities and around the world. They were selfless citizens.
In your personal journey of life in which we all get to take but once we will be dealt a bad hand.
Failure, disappointments, and setbacks will come your way.
And when those trying times come – and believe me they will – how you pick up and move forward will not depend only on what you know…but on how anchored you are to those things that really matter…faith, family, friends.
So here are my seven takeaways to help you along your life’s journey:
1. The difference between success and failure is really a matter of time.
2. Don’t be preoccupied with doing things right. Pay more attention to doing the right thing.
3. If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.
4. Learn from the mistakes of others because you can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.
5. We were all born originals, why spend the rest of our lives trying to be copies, stay originals!
6. A road without potholes is a road not worthy of the journey.
7. Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared.
Finally, I ask you this question: What will you leave behind when your chair is cold and empty? What will be the evidence that you were here and that while you walked this earth you made a difference?
May you seek joy and fulfillment in the most challenging places. May you never complicate what is simple. May you slow down to move fast. And please never forget that to get somewhere you have never been, you have to do something you have never done.
Congratulations on this special honor.
Don’t let the rain ruin your graduation moment! If you participated in Webster University’s Commencement Ceremony on May 9, you’re invited to the Walker School for a photo op with Dean Benjamin Akande:
Thursday, May 14
Webster University’s East Academic Building – Edward Jones Commons
545 Garden Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63119
Dean Akande will be dressed in his cap and gown. You can bring your graduation gown, or wear one of ours for the photo. This is a free event.
We hope to see you there!
Michael Holmes, our 2015 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year, is an individual who understands the importance of giving back and considers service to others a priority. As president of Rx Outreach, Holmes plays a critical role in helping people get the medications they need at an affordable price. Since 2010, this nonprofit charitable organization has saved patients more than $275 million on their prescription medications. By serving others, treating one another with respect, showing care and being a good steward, Holmes is improving access to prescription medications for low-income, uninsured Americans and working families around the country. Read the remarks Holmes prepared for the Class of 2015.
Commencement Remarks from Michael Holmes, Rx Outreach president and the Walker School’s 2015 Alumnus of the Year
As I am in the last stage of my formal career, I look back and reflect. I remember many things, one of which is that I never liked long commencement speeches. So I will keep my remarks brief. But I want to pass on a few thoughts from what I’ve learned over the past 35 years as a way of helping you as you begin your journey.
Your being here indicates that you are either beginning your career or looking to accelerate it. Congratulations on your accomplishments thus far.
I have five points that I’d like you to ponder:
1. Success is not a cookie cutter process. Yes there are patterns, but everyone’s journey will vary. Everyone is different and has unique abilities and traits. Don’t try to copy someone else. Build upon the talents that you’ve been blessed with. An original version of you is better than any copy of someone else.
2. Follow your heart. Typically, you’re good at what you like to do, and life’s too short to be spent being unhappy in your career. It’s easier to build upon your strengths if you enjoy putting them to use. Become the best at what you enjoy.
3. It’s ok to be ambitious; but don’t be in such a rush that you miss the joy of the journey. Each job and each year will teach you something different. If you only focus on what’s next, when you finally get to the top, you’ll feel empty and regret not having enjoyed the journey.
4. People count. Every one is important. If you don’t understand that, I feel sorry for you and you’ll have to learn it the hard way. Some of the people that many would deem to be the least important have made the biggest contributions to my success. Take time to not only appreciate others, but to help them. The rewards you receive will be of even greater value than those you reap from helping yourself.
5. Not everyone is cut out for the top job. Some of you who think you want it, may be miserable if you get it. Make sure you want it for the right reasons and that you’re willing to pay the price of having it. For some, it’s pure joy, but for others it’s a heavy burden.
Take the time to look deep inside and find out who you are and what you really want, then pursue that with all you have. If you do, you’ll find the courage to take the risks and the faith to keep going despite what anyone may say, then you will never regret the journey you’re on.
More importantly, at the end you’ll look back and you will be satisfied.
Thank you. May God bless you. And once again, congratulations!
2015 Commencement Ceremony Remarks from
Benjamin Ola. Akande, dean of the Walker School of Business & Technology
Today is a day of recognition and celebration. A day of transformation, for this is your Cinderella moment where you go to the ball and become magically transformed from a college student into a graduate business professional with one swish of the tassel on your mortarboard.
If you recall the story of Cinderella, she had reached a dead-end in her goal of attending the king’s ball where she hoped to attract the attention of the noble prince. Her evil stepsisters and cruel stepmother made sure that cinderella would not have the same opportunity; they had deemed her unworthy. Just as Cinderella had given up all hope, her fairy godmother appeared and with a wave of her wand, transformed Cinderella’s ragged dress into a beautiful ball gown, her worn shoes into glass slippers, a pumpkin into a golden carriage and mice into horses to power it. There was just one catch: the spell the fairy godmother had cast would end at the stroke of midnight, returning Cinderella back to her tattered life. I believe that there are a number of valuable life lessons from this fabled tale.
First: You must not let others define you. Cinderella’s family called her a ragged servant girl and ridiculed her. They even changed her name from Ella to the disparaging Cinderella. But Cinderella did not allow the opinion of others to define her. She knew who she was and didn’t stray from her innate goodness or the bigness of the aspiration for her life. People will try to put labels on you based on your age, your ethnicity, your gender, your income, your occupation, your looks, your accent. Regardless of the setting that you find yourself in as you move through your career—whether it’s a corner office or a mall kiosk—be true to who you are and the ideals you hold.
Second: Strive to live in the moment and be prepared for the uncertainty of life. Before Cinderella was magically transported to the ball, she was told that all of the finery and festivities would end abruptly at the stroke of midnight. Yet that did not stop her from relishing and rejoicing in every minute of the regality that surrounded her. She laughed and danced and even let herself fall in love. There will be times in your life when you know that a good thing—whether it’s a job, a home, a relationship, or even a vacation—will come to an end. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying the beginning and middle and be prepared to start all over again.
Third: Be kind to all: friends and frenemies, and especially yourself. Cinderella’s life was one of hardship and toil and isolation. But she didn’t let that make her bitter, despite the challenges she faced. She even found it in her heart to forgive her hating stepsisters and cruel stepmother, who had tried to make life difficult and impossible for her at every turn. There will no doubt be people who betray your trust as you go through your life. Know that their lack of character is strengthening yours and thank them for this gift with your forgiveness.
Fourth: Like Cinderella, you may have had a family member, spouse, boss or friend who helped you along the way. A professor who took the extra time to explain a concept you were struggling with. A classmate who served as your study partner and kept you from procrastinating. An advisor who helped you discover your true passion and a path for realizing it. A husband, a wife, a mother, a father, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a son, or a daughter who cheered you on when you were down and felt like giving up.
As extraordinary as all of these modern-day fairy godmothers—and if I may say so, fairy godfathers—are, and as much as they deserve your gratitude for helping you achieve the goal we celebrate here today, you must not forget that you, along with others who love you, who want the best for you, have all of the magical powers necessary to realize your dreams come true.
There is an important lesson here. You see, the locus of power was outside of Cinderella’s control. She needed someone else to make her dreams come true, and she had to do it on their timeline. A magic wand is a wonderful thing, but it always comes with an expiration date. So be ready to be prepared to heed the call when it comes.
The education you have acquired through your years at webster has no expiration date. The lessons you learned both inside and outside of the classroom will serve you in ways you are only beginning to appreciate.
I ask you to take the knowledge that has been shared with you throughout your university career, and just as the fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a golden coach transform that knowledge into wisdom which is its highest application. Then use this wisdom to manifest the magical vision you have for yourself and for others.
And so I wish for you today not a fairytale ending to an accomplished academic career, but a fairytale beginning to a bright and meaningful future.
I end with my favorite leave-behind.
If you want to go fast, you will have to go alone, but if you want to go far, you must take others with you. May you go far.
And now, if I may, I’d like to take a moment or two to say a fond farewell to all of the students, faculty and staff in the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology. I will be departing Webster at the end of this academic year to assume the Presidency of Westminster College. It has been a distinct privilege to serve all of you as your dean these past 15 years. You have shared with me your wisdom, your friendship, your hopes, your dreams, your successes and even your failures. I will be forever grateful for these gifts and will always remain a fond member of webster university.
As the saying goes, “Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right, forgive the ones who don’t and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it, if it changes your life, let it. And in the words of Dr. Seuss, nobody said it would be easy, they just said it would be worth it.”
Congratulations to all the graduates.
God bless you.
A Message from Benjamin Ola. Akande
Dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology
Fifteen years ago this summer, I signed on to become dean of what would become the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology.
It’s been an amazing ride – thanks to the hard work of all you faculty, staff and administrators.
Together we’ve had a successful record of fundraising and institutional advancement. Together we have transformed the Walker School into an innovator in business education through the creation of globally competent academic programs. Together we have consistently internationalized our curriculum and worked to ensure that non-traditional students gain global experiences through the Walker Travel Endowment Fund. Together we have introduced new, forward-looking programs while also enhancing our academic rigor and raising admission standards. Together we embarked on a consistency initiative that later paved the way for ACBSP accreditation.
Three years ago we moved into the state-of-the-art facility, the East Academic Building, which was the first new academic building on the Webster campus in 25 years.
Together we made faculty recruitment a top priority and expanded the ranks of full-time faculty by 50 percent. We also established a multi-year research agenda plan for all full-time faculty members. This has resulted in an increased frequency of publications in top-rated scholarly journals. Today our full-time faculty teach six courses in a nine month contract. We have also strengthened our ties with our adjunct faculty members, who play a critical role in fulfilling our promise to our students.
Yes, I am proud of what we’ve accomplished and you should be too.
On May 8, I was formally introduced as the new president of a small and reputable liberal arts college in the Midwest, Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.
I don’t believe in saying goodbye. It has such an odd sense of finality, especially to those that you consider to be a member of the family. In my native Yoruba language we don’t have a word for goodbye. Instead we say “ODIGBA,” which means until we meet again.
My friends, I hope to meet each and every one of you again.
For now I want to say thank you for all you have done and for all you continue to do to ensure that students who select Webster and the Walker School in particular as their higher education option get tremendous value for every cent they invest here.
And thank you for all you’ve done to help me grow personally and professionally during my time as dean of the Walker School.
Until we meet again…
Webster University’s Delta Upsilon chapter of Tau Sigma inducted 79 new members into the honor society during a ceremony held May 1. The national honor society, which recognizes the outstanding academic achievement of transfer students, has chapters at more than 100 universities across the country.
Debbie Psihountas, PhD, MBA Program Director and Professor of Finance, was invited to deliver the keynote address at the induction ceremony. “Given the challenges transfer students face as they get acclimated to a new school, new instructors and new friends, it’s a significant achievement for students to receive an invitation to join Tau Sigma,” Psihountas said.
During her speech, Psihountas offered insights on leadership and success as she drew upon David Letterman’s famous, “Top Ten Countdown.” Among the advice she offered, she said, “It is better to under-promise and over-deliver than to talk about what you will do and then not follow through effectively.” She also encouraged students to work at making a strong first impression and to stretch themselves to be more involved – both at Webster University and in their communities. “Getting involved is a great way to expand your horizons, and you can always do more than you think you can.”
Psihountas urged students to travel abroad and take advantage of Webster University’s unique international structure. She also emphasized the importance of saving money. “Save early and often. Be sure to put money away for a rainy day as there never has been, and never will be, a time where there isn’t rainfall.”
In closing, she asked students to find ways to balance their success with their free time. “It’s important for you to find a balance,” she said. “Life is truly about the journey, and not just the destination.”
Webster University is among the more than 100 universities nationwide with a charted Tau Sigma chapter. In order to be invited to join, transfer students must have completed at least 13 credit hours at Webster University and must have a GPA of 3.5 or higher. Learn more about the Delta Upsilon chapter of Tau Sigma.
How have you made a difference? The best way to get this across is to tell a story in three parts: what you did, how you did it, and the results. Results are often the toughest of the three, and that’s what we’ll focus on in this article.
Results? Answering “How did you make a difference?” stumps even many accomplished people. It’s easy if you’re a baseball player — you can point to your stats. Sales people can point to sales volume, new customers, etc. But many people are in fields in which success is not so easily measured.
Paul was the director of a mental health facility, and he simply looked blank when asked about how he had made a difference. He said he couldn’t think of anything. Finally, we asked him, “What would the facility be like if you did a bad job?” His eyes lit up and he said, “We wouldn’t be able to keep good staff. Patients wouldn’t be making progress. The staff wouldn’t function as an effective team.” He went on and on.
Similarly, all of us know at some level how we are doing because of cues in our environment. To articulate how we have made a difference, we need to thoughtfully consider what those cues are. Here’s a guide to help you think through your experience.
1) How have you affected your environment? If I came to your work place before you started work and after you had been there for a while, what changes might I notice?
Rita started work in a chaotic office. Papers were in haphazard piles, customers were screaming because they weren’t being served, and the company’s reputation was suffering. She came in on weekends to file papers properly, restructured the filing system so that any paper was easily retrieved, and organized the office’s paper flow. The office was noticeably less frenzied and operated smoother because of her organizational skills.
2) How have you affected other people? Has your company benefited from your people skills and management skills? Perhaps you’ve developed the skills of people around you, made teams run more smoothly, or soothed irate customers.
Over the years, Don inherited several troubled employees who were at the point of being fired. He recognized their potential and brought it out by communicating, encouraging and challenging them to take on difficult assignments. They responded with outstanding performance and a fierce loyalty to Don and the company.
3) What do people say about you? Many times our customers, coworkers and bosses say things that let us know that our performance is exceptional. Some ways this happens are verbal compliments, performance reviews or “thank you” notes.
Betty’s customers regularly tell her that she is the reason they continue doing business with her company. The location is inconvenient for many customers, but they so appreciate Betty’s warmth, judgment and great customer service that it’s well worth the inconvenience to make sure the job is done right. She has a file of letters from grateful customers, and she has brought in tens of thousands of dollars in business.
4) What do people’s actions say about you? Sometimes, people don’t get performance reviews and the boss never gives them a pat on the back. Still, people’s actions show you what they think. Perhaps people seek you out for the tough problems, your workload is bigger than anyone’s, or they chose you to train and mentor new staff.
Rhonda, a young college graduate, almost omitted her waitress experience from her resume because it seemed menial. After talking to her about it, she realized that this work demonstrated her capabilities for higher-level jobs. She had developed a loyal group of customers who requested that she be their server, she got far more tips than anyone else, and when the manager had to leave the restaurant, and he always put her in charge.
Employers demand results. So whether you’re a senior executive or a lower level employee, it is well worth the time to think through your contributions and develop a powerful written and verbal presentation.
David Hults is a nationally known career coach and speaker, as well as a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources from Webster University where he also completed graduate courses toward his MBA. Since 1987, Hults is the author of five books, a CD coaching series and has created the most sought after interview flash card set, which makes the interview simplified and painless. His experience in human resources led him to work for Express Scripts, a Fortune 500 company, as well as one of the nation’s largest healthcare systems, BJC. He has been coaching individuals for more than 20 years on how to break through individual roadblocks while also delivering speeches across the nation discussing how to manage change in careers and organizations today. For more information, visit his website at http://activ8careers.com
Webster University’s George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology has named Simone Cummings, PhD as the new Associate Dean of Academic Quality Assurance. In this role, Cummings will serve as the chief assessment, accreditation and academic quality assurance officer for all academic programs offered by the Walker School worldwide.
“Simone is a distinguished educator with a proven capacity to lead,” said Benjamin Akande, PhD, dean of the Walker School. “Her background in research and accreditation will be invaluable as we work to exceed accreditation standards and continuously improve student learning.”
Cummings joined the Walker School in 2013 as an associate professor of management, teaching finance and statistics courses in the Master of Health Administration program. Prior to joining the Walker faculty, she worked for a number of hospitals, including Barnes-Jewish Hospital, St. Louis Regional Hospital and Columbia Hospital for Women in Washington, D.C. She has also held faculty positions at Simmons College in Boston and Washington University in St. Louis.
“I am delighted to join the Walker School’s leadership team and I look forward to working with administration, faculty and staff to ensure that we continue to deliver high-quality, world-class academic programs to students,” Cummings said.
Cummings received an undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Washington University, a master’s degree in Health Administration from the Health Administration Program of the Washington University School of Medicine, and a doctorate in Health Policy and Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She currently serves on the Missouri Baptist Institutional Review Board and is active in a variety of local civic organizations.
She replaces Peter Maher, PhD, who has been named Interim Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs, International Campuses and Initiatives.
The Walker School is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the longest standing, most recognized form of specialized/professional accreditation an institution and its business programs can earn. With nearly 13,000 students and 1,500 full-time and adjunct faculty members, the Walker School is the largest business school in the nation.
In the April 23 edition of Ladue News, Benjamin Akande, PhD, dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University, explains why the St. Louis Cardinals are a good investment.
Connect the Dots: That’s a Winner!
Nineteen years ago, William Dewitt purchased the St. Louis Cardinals for a mere $150 million.
It turned out to be a smart investment.
According to an annual report published recently in Forbes magazine, our St. Louis Cardinals are now worth $1.4 billion – making the team the sixth most valuable franchise in Major League Baseball. The report adds that the Cardinals, who have had 16 winning seasons in the last 19 years and four World Series appearances, had $294 million in revenues last year—not bad for a team that plays in one of the league’s smallest markets. In the TV ratings game, the Cardinals also are undisputed champions, pulling in the highest ratings in professional baseball. Even the departure of former superstar Albert Pujols did not diminish the win-ability or value of this storied franchise.
The Cardinals’ profitability is good news for Dewitt, but also fantastic news for the greater St. Louis region.
Here are just a few of the ways the Cardinals’ strong financial fortunes benefit our community:
Economic impact: The Cardinals’ allure has transformed downtown St. Louis into one of the region’s most popular destinations. Each year, approximately 3-million baseball fans flock to downtown St. Louis. Of these, more than a million come from out of state and 90 percent come from outside the St. Louis City limits. Legions of baseball fans patronize the growing number of restaurants and watering holes dotting the Busch Stadium neighborhood before heading home. These fans also patronize other nearby businesses, including parking lots and hotels. The St. Louis Regional Chamber says the Cardinals’ economic impact on the region was $352 million in 2014, up from $330 million during the 2013 season. Each time the Cardinals have a successful playoff run, it pumps another $20 million into the region’s economy, according to the Chamber.
Jobs: Big-time sporting events create athletic jobs, as well as lots of non-athletic jobs, including cleaning services, food vendors, sound technicians and security personnel. About 3,000 workers staff each Cardinals game, and the multiplied impact from these workers is significant.
Community involvement: In the last 16 seasons, the Cardinals have donated almost 4 million tickets to children and charities. During that same period, the team’s non-profit foundation, Cardinals Care, has invested immensely in the region’s kids. To date, it has distributed some $18 million to St. Louis area nonprofit youth organizations, as well as built 19 youth ball fields in local disadvantaged neighborhoods. More than 4,500 kids in the St. Louis region have been served each season as part of the Redbird Rookies program since its founding 18 years ago. In addition to organizing athletic events, Redbird Rookies provides services such as mentoring, health screenings and scholarship opportunities for college.
Bottom line: The Dewitt family’s acquisition of the Cardinals has produced two sets of winners: the Dewitt family and the rest of us in the greater St. Louis region.